It seems as though US President Donald Trump’s wish for the border wall is finally coming true.
Or at least, partly.
The US government is beginning to prepare the construction of additional border walls and fencing in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, likely on federally owned land set aside as a wildlife refuge property. At least, to begin with, according to plans released by the US Customs and Border Protection.
Although Trump and the top Democrats remain in a standstill over the demand for US$5.7 billion (AU$7.9 billion) for border wall funding, US Customs and Border Protection is pushing ahead for what was already approved in March last year — more than US$600 million (AU$830 million) for 53 kilometres of new barriers in the Rio Grande Valley.
Already, the CBP have reported that heavy construction equipment was expected to arrive on the site on Monday. Meanwhile, a photo posted by the non-profit National Butterfly Center depicts an excavator parked next to its property.
Take a look at the unexpected driving factor behind Australia’s ‘Ticking Timebomb’. Read more about it here for free.
Privately-owned land and historical sites also at threat
According to a map released by the CBP, this construction will cut right through the butterfly centre, a nearby state park, and a century-old Catholic chapel by the river.
However, the plans state that the CBP intend to construct on federally-owned land, first.
AP reports that the initial construction was described as fencing, which was supported by some Democrats in both the House and Senate — however, the CBP refers to it as a ‘border wall system’.
As part of these wall plans, the CBP shows the design of 40 kilometre on concrete wall, raising to the height of the existing flood-control levee in Hidalgo County (next to Rio Grande, the wall that forms the US–Mexico border).
Atop these concrete walls, 5.5-metre steel posts will be installed, as well as a 45-metre enforcement zone in front.
However, existing landowners have been opposing the plans of the wall, vowing to fight the US government if their land is subject to seizing. But these court fights could take weeks, if not months, to conclude. Valuable time lost while these plans continue to go ahead.
Plans to go ahead despite wildlife concerns
At least for the moment, the CBP intends to start their construction on federally-owned land. But environmental advocates are expecting the government to push through the wildlife reserve, consisting of masses of land purchased over decades to create a sanctuary for endangered species and wildlife.
Already, the butterfly centre has announced their property south of the levee is off limits and is seeking legal action. Protestors have been seen walking on Monday along the river where the construction is intending to start.
Jim Chapman, a long-time resident of the area, said that despite months of protests and meetings, there had been no acknowledgement by the US government to protect the needs of these endangered species.
‘If you were going to design a border wall with maximal impact, you would do exactly what they were doing,’ Chapman said.
‘You couldn’t do it worse.’
PS: Discover this free report: Why Australia’s three-decade, recession-free ‘miracle economy’ is nothing more than a ticking timebomb. Download now for free.